Excommunicated seem to have an interesting story to boot. Can you please give us a brief run-through of the story behind the inception of the band?
-I imagine everyone in the band has their own unique perspective on it. I think ultimately, we three were not quite ready to give up when our respective bands came to an end. Jason McIntyre, Jonathan Joubert, and I had each been in sort of rival death metal bands from Louisiana all throughout the 90’s and part of the 2000’s. I think we each kind of brought our own unique perspective into the project. Jason’s band Suture was a brutal DM band, which ended around 2007 after 2 great albums and several splits and compilations. Despondency was a melodic and more European sounding DM band, which came to a close around 2002 or 2003. Catholicon was the last to self-terminate in 2009, and my band was a more primitive death/black metal band. When the conditions were right for the three of us to work on an album together; I just think it made great chemistry. Excom became the forced collusion of a lot of different ideas. Jason McIntyre had recorded a guest lead on the last Catholicon album back in 2008, and we’d talked about working together on some stuff then and in the past (in fact, one of the tracks off the Excom record came from a demo of a song he wrote originally almost ten years ago). He was always someone I would have wanted to ask to help keep Catholicon going, and we’d discussed that as well back in late 2009 after the band had ended. Jonathan Joubert and I had similar discussions over the years, and similarly not much had ever come of it. Jonathan was the bassist for Cath back in the 1998/1999 era and played/did backing vocals on what is usually considered the best Catholicon demo (1999 promo), and I’d recorded Jason’s band Suture several times and mastered two of their releases; so we’d gotten to work together before several times over the years… just nothing as serious as this project became. I’m still kind of shocked at how it all came together; I think it was meant to be. We’re all very different; what makes it work is that we’re all unusually (for this genre) level headed and can approach things in a clear and business-like manner; no real disputes ever happen because we’re fairly professional. That was not a luxury I really had in the past as much.
Having been part of an already established band, Catholicon, how much easier is it to establish a new name?
-Well, I don’t think Catholicon was really any more established than Despondency or Suture. Suture, if anything, reached the highest level of success out of the three bands, having been signed to three real labels (Deepsend, Unmatched Brutality, and Amputated Vein) and done several mini-tours and bigger festival shows. They created 2 albums that are considered cult, out-of-print-CD classics in the brutal death metal genre (“Skeletal Vortex” and “Carnivorous Urge To Kill”). What Catholicon did do was consistently put out releases and work the underground for the better part of 15 years; our effect was somewhat cumulative, but there was never really any real ‘break’ for the band and all of our records were self-made and self-released, more or less. We were one of those bands that really became very complacent in that underground/garage band level, and this is as much my fault as anyone’s. I think we just didn’t know how to bring it to the next level and finally the chemistry just stopped working. At least, that was my take on it.
-To answer the question though, I think the Catholicon name helped people to kind of understand what I was going to be doing, lyrically. People who follow the band kind of knew what I had been trying to do; and so it came as no surprise that I would continue to do what I’d been doing, which was to sort of shame the Orthodoxy with documentary evidence of their past sins, and otherwise just keep producing what we always called ‘intelligent blasphemy’.
I liked Catholicon because you guys had such a no-nonsense attitude to black/death metal. Where did this come from?
-Probably because we were all just working to the limit of our abilities, which was never very high. I’m speaking of myself as much or more than anyone; and I don’t mean it in a self-deprecating way. Johnny Cash said the exact same thing; that he was just doing the best he could do. That’s really exactly how I felt. I’m proud of the 4 Catholicon records for a lot of various reason; but I’m much more able as a vocalist, lyricist, and recording engineer than I am as a performer or musician. Knowing what you really are good at is half the battle in trying to take things up a notch. When Catholicon started, the only real agenda was to be a spearhead against orthodoxy and fundamentalism that permeates the southern Bible belt here; and also not to sound like most other southern/Louisiana bands. I’d say we did that.
Both Catholicon and Excommunicated have a strong religion/Christian/Catholic criticism stance to the lyrical side. What is so wrong with Christianity/Catholicism?
-Well, it’s ultimately wrong because it’s a lie; not because of any one deed or misdeed. It isn’t true. Lies should be exposed; especially lies used to control. Systems of control, based on falsehood; it’s just not something one can ethically take a pass on and let slide. At least, I never could. Religion is essentially social engineering; and far from being a force that binds people together, it’s actually a force that divides and tears people apart.
As somebody who was kicked out of Sunday school for asking the wrong questions organized religion isn’t for me. Why do you think that people have such a strong need to be lead by somebody else?
-I had a similar experience myself. I think religion feeds on a human tendency to follow parental figures without critical reasoning. Ironically enough, we have this weakness due to our evolutionary psychology.
As I don’t believe in any sort of deity I have a hard time understanding the thought process that goes through all kind of believers’ heads. Doesn’t it get tiresome to constantly think up/of different ways to criticize Catholicism?
-It hasn’t yet. But one thing on “Skeleton Key” I had to consciously do was to avoid the common themes that Catholicon had already addressed on the “Death Throes of Christianity” album and on others. This means I wasn’t going to directly talk about Inquisitions, witch trials, the 8 Crusades, the Orthodox Wars, etc. I dug a lot deeper and talked about a lot of other things, drawing influence from books such as “The Incorruptibles” and “The Monks Of War”.
“Skeleton Key” has a story all its own. What is this story all about?
-It’s just a walk through medieval Catholicism and some of their most Ghoulish habits, such as the worship and consumption of deceased Saints and Beati, the castration of boys in the Sistine choir, the supposed divine and infallible nature of the Papacy, and a lot of other nasty things the Church would just as soon we not remember.
Being from a place that puts “God” before anybody else, how are you being met by the general populace?
-Most people don’t have a clue; I don’t really wear my beliefs on my sleeve. I do go about town wearing whatever I like and every once in a while I’ll realize I’m at the local Christian-owned grocery store wearing a giant pentagram or something… haha So far, nobody has said a thing to me. I think they know better.
What I’ve noticed is that then the push comes to shove those who’ve stood by you turn on you. Have you had any experiences with people who’ve stood by you turn on you when times got harder and how do you deal with them/the emotions that comes from that betrayal?
-I haven’t had that direct experience, mostly because I am so anti-social that I’ve insulated myself from most of it. About the only person I depend on for anything critical would be my father and close family; and they’ve never betrayed me. I’m a strong believer in the idea of if you want something done right, do it yourself; and if someone is unable to do something, you get someone else, etc. So I guess I’ve never really set myself up for that kind of thing. I know what you’re talking about though; human nature is not the best and it happens.
What kind of future do you see for Excommunicated?
-Well, even though we’ve been at this for the better part of two decades, Excom is a very young name. We hope the album does well, and we very much want to do a second one. If we could find label interest for #2, that would be all the better; if not, we’ll try to do it again on our UW label. The next album will be heavier, and will basically pick up (conceptually) where this one leaves off.